1. About VRF
1A. How can I contact you?
We are a small team, so before contacting us, please ensure you have read through these FAQs carefully.
You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please be aware that we currently have very limited capacity to reply to emails sent to our inbox
Our number for voicemail only is 020 3795 5746
We can only accept calls and emails from frontline workers enquiring about our grants programme, not from members of the general public.
For more about our opening hours, see our grant portal homepage.
You can write to us at:
The Vicar's Relief Fund
5 St Martin's Place
1B. What advice do you offer?
We do not offer advice on housing or homelessness.
We provide grants and our phone line is to answer queries only from frontline workers about the VRF grant programme - registration, application, and the payments process.
2. About our grants
2A. What do you fund?
We give grants to help people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness to access accommodation or to prevent eviction. Examples of these categories are below.
- Accessing Accommodation: A deposit, rent in advance, ID, or temporary B+B accommodation.
- Preventing Eviction: Rent arrears, service charge arrears, debt relief order or bankruptcy fees.
2B. How much can I apply for?
£500 is the maximum total amount we will issue to any one client in a 12 month period. This can consist of more than one grant.
We will pay up to:
£350 for Preventing Eviction grants.
£500 for Accessing Accommodation grants.
If you are asking for more than this amount, your application must make clear how your client has exceptional circumstances.
2C. Why do you have a £500 limit?
The demand on our service means that we can’t afford to fund all applications received (we receive around 80 applications a day). The upper grant amount limit (£350 for Preventing Eviction and £500 for Accessing Accommodation) means we can afford to deliver the impact of a small grant for many people, rather than using our budget on only a few individuals.
2D. What if more than £500 is needed?
Accessing Accommodation grants:
If a grant is to be used as part of a bigger package of support then please include in the application what these other amounts are and the source eg £200 Discretionary Housing Payment.
Preventing Eviction grants:
Please be realistic. If the arrears are substantial a grant from the VRF may not have a significant impact and will be assessed as a lower priority and/or possibly rejected.
We can only pay for arrears accrued up to your application date - do not ask for arrears in advance.
2E. Do you give grants for household goods?
We will only consider household goods/setting up home grants if you can demonstrate that the grant will enable someone to access accommodation or prevent eviction.
2F. Do you help with private tenancies?
Yes, we do provide deposits and rent in advance to help your client access a private tenancy. We also pay private tenancy arrears when this will prevent someone being evicted and made homeless.
2G. Do you help with debt relief orders/bankruptcy?
We can consider applications for debt relief order or bankruptcy fees where this would help someone access housing or prevent eviction.
We can make payments to the supporting organisation or directly to the accountant in bankruptcy or to the Insolvency Service.
2H. Do you help with hoarding/decluttering?
Yes if it would prevent eviction. The applicant will need to upload evidence that it would do so.
3A. Who do you help?
The VRF provides crisis grants for people who are:
- currently homeless or
- in imminent danger of becoming homeless
Applications should only be made to us as a last resort. The VRF has a strict daily budget that is oversubscribed. As it is a crisis fund, we will only approve applications where a grant will alleviate or prevent homelessness or assist those that are vulnerably housed. We do not make grants to simply reduce financial burden.
For more details, please read the VRF grant making policy.
3B. Who can apply?
We only accept applications from paid frontline workers providing support to people who are experiencing homelessness or vulnerable housing.
A frontline worker includes staff working in the voluntary, statutory and public sectors undertaking diverse roles including Resettlement or Outreach Workers, CAB advisers, Supported Housing Officers, Mental Health Teams, Drug and Alcohol Support, GP’s, Probation, Social Workers, Prison In-Reach Workers, Police, or Health professionals.
Before an application can be made, frontline workers must register with us by going to https://smitf.flexigrant.com/
Please read our New User Registration Flowchart for more information about the registration process
3C. Why can't people apply for a grant directly themselves?
By issuing the funds through frontline organisations and landlords, we can maintain a secure point of contact, receive receipts and ensure grants are spent as intended to help the people who need it most.
3D. Does the charity support people who are homeless and vulnerably housed outside of London?
Yes, we provide grants UK-wide.
3E. Why can’t we apply for a grant before notice of eviction is given?
We are not able to give grants simply to clear arrears - we can only give a grant where there is a threat of eviction and so need to know that a formal eviction process has been started. This could be evidenced by an email or a letter from the landlord.
4A. I’m homeless, can I apply for a grant?
We do not accept applications from members of the public. If you need a grant yourself, you will need to approach a support service (eg. a homelessness charity or Citizens Advice) and ask them to apply for you. We are not caseworkers and unfortunately cannot provide casework support ourselves.
4B. What documentation is needed to support the application?
All applications must include a signed client consent form, which can be downloaded from the application form itself.
We also require evidence before we can assess application forms.
Please see our VRF Pre-Grant Evidence for more details.
4C. How do I make an application?
We only accept applications through our online system Flexi-Grant. Go to https://smitf.flexigrant.com and follow the link to ‘register as a user’. Registration involves 3 steps:
- Provide your email address
- Confirm your email address (you will receive an email prompting you to do this – it may go into your spam folder so check there)
- Log in at https://smitf.flexigrant.com/login.aspx with your confirmed email address, select ‘Application Portal’ at the top left of the screen. Select the ‘New User Registration Form’ and fill in this form. This is NOT the grant application form.
- Wait 5 working days for us to process your registration form. We will email you with our decision.
For more information on our registration process, please see our New User Registration Flow Chart.
Once you have completed this registration process, you can again log in to https://smitf.flexigrant.com/login.aspx and fill in a grant application form.
4D. When will I hear back from you?
Please allow five working days for your application to receive a response. We ask that you do not contact us within this time. The VRF is heavily oversubscribed and to ensure we treat all applications fairly, we do not respond to requests for an application to be fast-tracked.
Once the application is submitted, we are only able to discuss the application with the frontline worker submitting it and the manager named on the application. If you are about to go on annual leave or you know that you will not be available within this time-frame, please do not make an application. If you have a colleague that will be taking over in your absence, then they will need to have their own separate account to be able to make a referral on behalf of your client.
We are currently working within our contingency plan which enables the team to work from home and process applications and emails as usual. We are still hoping to process applications within 5 working days, but please be aware that sometimes there might be a delay. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience during this time.
However, in order to minimise the risk of delays – we ask that you bear with us and only contact us with queries if absolutely necessary.When we experience high levels of general queries this does impact our turnaround time. Thank you for your patience and help at this time.
We will update you if circumstances change.
4E. Why was my application unsuccessful?
The VRF is heavily oversubscribed and our team is small so unfortunately we don’t have the time and resources to give feedback about unsuccessful applications.
The most common reasons applications are unsuccessful are:
- The client is ineligible eg. they are not homeless or at risk of homelessness
- The application was made for support that VRF doesn’t offer eg. to reduce arrears
- Evidence was not provided eg. that the person is at risk of eviction
- Evidence was not provided eg. that the grant will remove the risk of eviction
- Evidence was not provided eg. that the client will be rehoused within two months (after clearing arrears to access social housing)
- The consent form was not complete or not uploaded to the application
- You did not use a VRF consent form
- The case for support has not been made in the application or we have not been given enough information to make an informed decision. We need more than two sentences with general statements about the situation. You should explain what the need for the grant is, how it meets our eligibility criteria and how they will be able to avoid housing vulnerability in the future.
- The application is badly presented eg the client’s name is misspelled, irrelevant documents have been attached or other mistakes that may suggest the service may not provide the support the client will need for a successful tenancy.
- The application was strong but other applications were stronger or would address more acute needs.
Unfortunately, even strong applications will be turned down from time to time.
4F. What does it mean if my grant is at "Current Stage: Offer"?
In Flexi-grant, if the status of your application is at "Current Stage: Offer" this means that your application has been successful and is waiting to be processed.
Please do not contact us during this time unless it has been more than 5 working days since you submitted your application. You will receive an email once the grant has been processed.
5. Successful applications
5A. Can you pay clients directly?
We can make BACS payments to organisations or landlords or make cheques out to government agencies.
5B. We were awarded a grant for a particular property, but due to a change of circumstances would like to use it for a different property. Is that allowed?
5C. Does the grant have to be paid back to the VRF?
No. It is a grant not a loan.
5D. The grant is no longer needed, how can I return it?
Yes, we can accept a grant return by BACS payment or cheque. Full instructions for returning a grant can be found in the Application Portal using the form ‘Return funds to the VRF’.
6A. What evidence should I send you after the VRF grant has been awarded?
Once the funds have been spent, you must provide documentary evidence to the VRF that the funds have been used as set out in your application.
Click here to download our VRF Post-Grant Evidence guide.
6B. Why is my account suspended/locked?
As stated in our terms and conditions, by accepting a VRF grant you agree to provide us with evidence of how the grant was spent.
If you are late submitting evidence without agreeing this with us first, or if there are queries about the evidence submitted, your account will be suspended.
While suspended, you will not be able to apply for a VRF grant. You will be able to upload evidence whilst suspended, but unable to start or finish any applications.
Our policy is to permanently lock anyone who has had their account suspended more than twice in a 12 month period
6C. When will my suspended account be reactivated?
Once acceptable evidence has been submitted, we will email you to let you know your account has been reactivated.
Our policy is to permanently lock anyone who has had their account suspended more than twice in a 12 month period
Can I provide verbal consent? (COVID-19)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we can accept verbal consent if your client is unable to sign the written consent form. You can download both the written and verbal consent forms below. A completed consent form will need to be uploaded onto your application before we can assess it.